Monsignor remembered as a welcoming pastor

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Monsignor John Francis Lyne has been remembered as a man who made parishioners – particularly migrants – feel at home.

Monsignor John Francis Lyne has been remembered for his great pastoral wisdom after his death in Sydney.

The former parish priest of St Kevin’s, Eastwood, and St Joseph’s, Belmore, died aged 86 on Monday October 23 at the Holy Spirit Nursing Home, Croydon.

George Rupesinghe, a parishioner of St Joseph’s Belmore, recalled the care the then-Father Lyne took to reach out to migrants such as himself who arrived in the southwest parish with his wife Maureen and two young children in 1979.

“What always struck me was the way he sought to a grip on the needs of an increasingly diverse parish and did his best to meet them. That struck me as the measure of the man and I’ll never forget it,” he said.

“He made them understand that he was there for them. ‘This is the Catholic Church, we are all brothers and sisters in Christ’, he would say.

“Because of the language difficulties, he identified leaders among us through which he could reach out and meet their needs spiritually and liturgically. He laid the groundwork for the St Joseph’s of today.

“A lot of people like me will cherish many memories of him.”

Mons Lyne was also a friend to the racing community at Rose Hill. And his fondness for racing was matched by his love of opera and theatre. (He was for many years the chaplain of the Genesian Theatre Company.)

The priest who succeeded him at St Kevin’s in Eastwood, Fr Martin Maunsell said that Mons Lyne also had a great rapport with the children at St Kevin’s school – “they loved him”.

“And he was excellent to me as the incoming parish priest,” Fr Maunsell said.

“He was just the perfect gentleman towards me, and he had been at the parish for 23 years.”

Mons Lyne also deserved credit, Fr Maunsell said, for building the parish’s current church and presbytery.

“He was responsible for creating a church that the people of Eastwood are justly very proud of.”

The monsignor was due to receive a papal award, the Croce pro Ecclesia et Pontifice, in honour of his outstanding and enduring devotion to the priesthood of the Archdiocese of Sydney.

The Archbishop of Sydney, Anthony Fisher OP, who nominated Mons Lyne for the award, visited him a few days before he died.

Mons Lyne was ordained by Cardinal Gilroy at St Mary’s Cathedral on July 30, 1955, and served in several Sydney parishes. He was parish priest at St Joseph’s, Belmore, between 1975-89. Before his retirement to lesser duties in 2013 he served as parish priest at St Kevin’s, Eastwood.

He also served as a member of the College of Consultors, the Council of Priests, and the Ryde Deanery.

His funeral will be held on Monday, October 30 at 10.30am at St Kevin’s, Eastwood.